Hotel Technology Implementation and Support Challenges in Emerging Markets
By Binu Mathews, CEO at IDS Next
We are approaching the end of 2018, and it's interesting to see that Emerging markets are a favoured investment choice. With credit to economic growth this year, hotel technology companies are eager to invest in these markets. To have a positive ROI of any technology investment, hotels need to partner with companies that are invested in implementation and support services — not just software.
Fortunately, modern technologies such as global intranets, video-conferencing etc. contribute effectively to the bridge the gap created be geographical distance. However, even these advanced communication tools often falter when it comes to language barriers.
It's these differences in language and culture that have made it notoriously difficult for businesses to effectively branch into emerging markets; thus, supporting customers in local languages becomes inevitable. With all this in mind, it is crucial for:
- (a) Companies to ensure staff has the right skills to converse effectively
- (b) To make sure that they have trained locals
- (c) Have invested in direct offices
- (d) Have also invested in training and building up resources
Another challenge that businesses face can be found in the multiple statutory needs of doing business.
For instance, within Africa & Middle East alone, we have multiple statutory requirements ranging from Revenue Authority certifications, Fiscal printer interfaces, VAT compliances, Police & Tourism interfaces and more. These requirements are also evolving and are privy to frequent enhancements. With this in mind, a deep understanding of local statutory laws and certifying authorities is necessary to deliver the right hotel technology. To develop a local knowledge base, it's important to participate in the decision-making process — meaning hotel technology providers need to adopt strategies to stay more local and shed the "one size fits all" approach.
It's also interesting to observe the way in which emerging markets span across different time zones. From Africa to SE Asia we have 10 to 12 time zones. With hospitality being a true 24/7 operation, technology providers need true 24/7 support to manage these markets and to counter challenges stemming from difficulties in reaching target customers.
Ultimately, having country-specific operations, supported by locally developed capabilities and talent leads to stability in your business. To make sure emerging markets are successful, you need long-term technology players who demonstrate investments in local resources with a commitment to support globally with 24/7 availability.